Living tradition or panda's cage? : an analysis of the urban conservation in Kyoto : case study: 35 Yamahako neighbourhoods

No Thumbnail Available
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Doctoral thesis (monograph)
Date
1999-08-21
Major/Subject
Mcode
Degree programme
Language
en
Pages
306
Series
Teknillisen korkeakoulun arkkitehtiosaston tutkimuksia, 1999 / 16
Abstract
The focus of the research is the city centre of Kyoto and there, the group of thirty-five hoko neighbourhoods known for the organisation of the Gion Festival. At the present moment the wooden town heritage in the area is threatened in a number of ways. Such threats are both the threatening effects of town planning as well as the lack of appropriate urban conservation policies. Focusing on a few, selected landmarks and areas has led to the compartmentalising of the city and to the failure of municipal authorities to identify culturally dependent and place-oriented value-categories. In the process the heritage evaluation methods in use have played more than a minor role. The methodological approach taken in the thesis aims to an approach where the dwelling patterns and cultural patterns are identified as an inseparable entity. Such an approach is especially important in Kyoto where traditional townhouses were never just residential spaces but had important production and cultural functions as well. Cultural values are analysed through the tradition of the Screen Festival. The wooden townhouse context plays an important role as the scenic stage of the festival. The interpretation of the Japanese context and its implications for urban conservation work are an essential part of the research. The inter-relationship between the urban dwelling and the street and the importance of place are defined as major cultural values to be focused on. The heritage argumentation methods are seen as an important tool how to enhance cultural values and continuous use. On-site recording is used as an important evaluation tool. The author measured for the thesis approximately one hundred wooden facades of traditional townhouses in the survey area. Furthermore, as a member of the Kyoto University research team the author participated in an extensive field research during the Gion Festival in three following years, where all screen displays and their urban settings were documented including more than 160 antique screens. The conclusions of the thesis suggest that the wooden town heritage cannot be assessed through selected (expert) values alone, but also other values and meanings must be taken into consideration. The wooden town heritage is appreciated, not only because of its visual and historical characteristics but also because of its capacity to hold cultural values and ways of life. Individual interpretations and cultural readings add to the significance of place. The traditional display patterns are identified as key cultural values that should be an essential part of heritage assessment work. The conclusions of the research do not apply only to Kyoto but are closely related to the urban conservation problems of wooden towns in general. Because of the fragility of the wooden town tradition and the authenticity problems involved, the methodological approach should be paid special attention. The wooden town heritage cannot be evaluated using same criteria as towns built in stone or brick. Changes and alterations must be tolerated if any of the wooden town heritage is to be preserved. Social values, cultural practices and individual interpretations should be added as an important element in the evaluation practices of heritage.
Description
Keywords
Japanese architecture, Kyoto, urban conservation, wooden town heritage, Gion Festival, Screen Festival
Other note
Citation
Permanent link to this item
https://urn.fi/urn:nbn:fi:tkk-001210